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Gary Neville labels FA sale of Wembley Stadium 'ridiculous'

Gary Neville explains to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee why selling Wembley isn't the solution to financing grassroots football.

Former Manchester United player Gary Neville has called the proposed sale of Wembley Stadium to Fulham owner Shahid Khan "ridiculous."

Speaking to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) parliamentary hearing, Neville said there were better ways for the Football Association, which owns Wembley, to make the needed money to invest in grassroots football in England.

Neville said of Khans £600 million offer: "The FA feels to fund the grassroots programme, they have to sell a national asset -- it's quite simply ridiculous. This is nonsense.

"They are talking about an extra £70m a year for 20 years -- that's a pittance in football, it's a pittance in government, it's the price of a full-back."

However, the FA maintains that the sale of Wembley would help them provide money for improvements to pitches nationwide, of which the association says only one in three at the grassroots level are up to par.

And Sports Minister Tracey Crouch, who also spoke at the DCMS hearing, moved to offset fears of the windfall not reaching those most in need of a "cash injection."

Crouch said: "There will be legal guarantees about how the money is spent, absolutely. There will be protections in place.

"This cash injection means we can start to build the facilities and play good quality football to create better talent for the future.

"The government invested money into Wembley and we want to ensure that the public money is safeguarded."

FA chief Martin Glenn, who has been an outspoken supporter of the plan to sell Wembley, also weighed in at the hearing, maintaining it was a good plan and that it should be seen as a £900m valuation since the FA won't sell Club Wembley, the money-making hospitality venture in the stadium.

"We have a plan for investment, and it's a good plan, but if we can accelerate that, and make things happen much sooner, why wouldn't we consider it?" he said.

"We're not just trying to sell the stadium, we're selling it with a large number of restrictive clauses," Glenn said.

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